Thursday, December 08, 2005


How would you respond to claims that Christmas is no longer about Christ?

To respond to this question it is important to look at what Christianity says about Christ. It says …

GOD (Rules) God really exists! He made the world, and that includes you and me. We believe this because he has clearly revealed himself in the historic person of Jesus Christ whom he raised from the dead. Jesus is the rightful ruler of the world. See Gen 1:1; Mt 28:18; Phil 2:9-11.
MAN (Rebel) None of us has lived consistently as though this was the state of affairs. We have all by degree assumed that we have the right to run our own lives. Sometimes we have consciously disobeyed God; at other times we have just ignored him. It amounts to the same thing, rebellion. See Mk 7:21-23; Rom 3:12; 1 Jn 3:4.
GOD (Repent) In Christ, God tells us that this is not our world to live in according to our selfish desires. It is God's world. Therefore we should stop rebelling against him and live in the world the way he has designed us to live in it. He calls us to come into his 'Kingdom', that is to submit to his kingly rule in our lives. See Mt 7:21; Mk 1:14,15; Acts 17:30.
WHAT IF I DON'T? (Unforgiven) If we refuse God's offer of forgiveness and reconciliation, we will remain unforgiven and unreconciled. Ultimately, rebels will be overthrown. See Mt 7:23,26,27; Rom 1:18; 2 Thess 1:8,9.
WHAT IF I DO? (Forgiven) If we stop rebelling and bring our lives under God's rule, he treats us as though we had never rebelled against him. He accepts us wholeheartedly because Jesus in dying on the cross took upon himself the punishment we deserve. A whole new relationship with God then opens up. We become his friends and are adopted into his family. See Jn 3:16; Rom 6:23, 8:1,15; Col 2:14.

We live in a so-called Post-Christian culture here in the UK. We live in a nominally Christian country that has accepted the views of the enlightenment that as Nietzsche famously said “God is dead” and that something can be true for one person but not another. Amid this there is still the values and institutions of a Christian past. Some may think so but the way Christmas is celebrated today has little to do with Jesus Christ.

What differences would you like to see in the way people view and celebrated Christmas within the United Kingdom, and do you think this ideal will ever become a reality?

There are many things that are good about Christmas even if you are not a Christian. The fact that Christmas has come to be associated with family time together is great and the excuse to show loved ones that you do love them is brilliant. But these things alone do very little to change the ultimate reality that we are all headed in one direction and the way we celebrate Christmas does nothing to change this…

We are all rebels and have to choose whether to stop going our own way and receive God’s offer of forgiveness and live under his rule or carry on in rebellion.

The way I would like to see people in the UK celebrate Christmas is to assess whether or not Jesus is the rightful ruler of the world come into time to show us who he is and to die to bring us into relationship with God.

One way the students of Bristol can do this is by attending the Student Carol Service at Christ Church Clifton this Sunday and taking a personal and intellectually approach to the person of Christ.

It could be argued that without the present giving and other aspects of Christmas, which aren’t specifically religious, many people would not find Christmas relevant to them. Would you rather people celebrate through these secular channels than not at all?

Christmas is relevant to all. The angel said to the Virgin Mary:

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

This little child in the manger is God. God in human form. Who through dying on the cross in our place will give us the to stop our rebellion and be accepted under God’s rule again.

Someone once said to me:

“It makes no difference what you believe if what you believe makes no difference”

If we don’t respond to Jesus, it does not matter how we celebrate Christmas because we are still going our own way apart from God in rebellion and whether or not we have an advent calendar makes no difference to this. This is what is important.

Those that do celebrate Christmas through secular channels, I think we would all agree, should try and have consistent belief systems. If you are going to give gifts at Christmas you check out the amazing gift of Jesus Christ!

Many people from other religious backgrounds such as Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews celebrate these secular elements of Christmas, how do you feel about this?

Let me quote something I was recently reading on the internet. This person was on a cruise ship:

“On Christmas Eve, when many followers of Christ around the world were going to midnight services for quiet and worship, the guest entertainment host on our ship led us through a myriad of secular Christmas-time songs. Frosty's and Santa's songs were in attendance that night, as was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's. "I'll be Home for Christmas" was an ironic favorite as nobody on the ship was actually home for Christmas. I scanned the faces of the red and green dressed audience that evening. The songs fell quietly upon desperate countenances that seemed to say, "Is this all there is?" While those songs are delightful in their proper context, like birthday cakes and candles, these surface-features of Christmas made the celebration that evening feel lifeless, tame, commercial, mechanistic, uninteresting, shallow, brutish, and banal. It was like eating a pound of sugar without the substance of the rest of the bakery … I wonder how the secularization of Christmas has really offered us anything 'reasonable'?”
The fact that Muslims and Hindus celebrate Christmas is not a big deal. What is a big deal is what the arrival of this little baby means for you and me …